By modifying my nutritional habits, I’m able to manage my diabetes type 2
A while ago, Agnès sent me her personal testimony. She wrote that she had diabetes type 2. Under the supervision of a nutritionist, she modified her diet and after 3 weeks she no longer needed insulin injections. Agnès is no longer a diabetes patient. Her story provoked many reactions, mainly positive, but also a few indignant ones. ‘Soon people are going to think that diabetes type 2 is curable,’ some said. And yet, it is true. Most people with diabetes type 2 can be cured. The same can’t be said for those suffering from diabetes type 1. They can still eat healthily, but they can’t be cured. In most cases, diabetes type 2 is associated with lifestyle factors (such as nutrition and exercise) while type 1 is a disorder you’re born with. I’ve asked Agnès to give us a little more insight into her story.
Agnès: 'From the age of 45, I noticed how quickly I tired. I had heart palpitations and hardly emptied my bladder during the day, but as soon as I lay in bed I had to take at least five trips to the bathroom. I also gained a lot of weight. At 52, I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2. That was an enormous shock. I was prescribed medicine and for a while everything went well. However, after two years, my blood glucose level was found to be too high despite the fact I was eating healthily. My GP prescribed insulin. Initially, I was fine with that because I could eat a piece of cake again and have a glass of Trappist beer at a pavement café… But I soon realised that injecting insulin left a lot to be desired. My endocrinologist was always very happy with my results were good, but in spite of that I still had to inject more insulin to ensure my results remained stable. And all the while, I kept gaining weight.
I subsequently came into contact with Elly Verhoeven, a diabetes educator, and she made me realise that I needed to completely change my habits and drastically reduce my carbohydrate intake. Elly explained why insulin encouraged weight gain. It’s actually a growth hormone and that’s why it makes you fat – especially around your waist. She asked if I was ready to totally commit and to exercise every day. I asked her about Pascale Naessens lifestyle. I had Elly’s total support. My GP and endocrinologist were also both informed. They supported me and gave the go ahead. It was just before the holiday season. Elly gave me a schedule and I went to work with Pascale’s books. Although I needed to reduce my carbohydrate intake my medication was also reduced at the same time. The first day was spectacular. I had to text Elly my blood results every day and I was allowed to ask questions at any time, which put me at ease. We slowly reduced the insulin and on the 10th of January, I injected insulin for the final time. That was a very emotional moment for me. I cried for joy. Finally after 10 years no more insulin injections!
My glucose levels remain stable. I test myself 4 times a day and am still surprised at the good results. They are better than when I injected. The levels used to be too high in the mornings, but that is no longer the case. I go Nordic walking every day and I’ve lost more than 5 kg. I have good meals, I work out and I feel super fit after just one month! Every day, we prepare a meal from Pascale’s books. My husband usually cooks and actively participates. He doesn’t have diabetes, but he feels fitter and has lost weight. We want a healthy and pleasant life. I’ve set my sights on the next 5 kilos. I’m going to stick with this lifestyle.'
Important message from Elly Verhoeven!
As diabetes educator I work in conjunction with the attending doctor or endocrinologist when it concerns the modification of insulin units. Diabetes patients should never make the decision to reduce their insulin units without first speaking with their doctor, since it should always occur under supervision. I created a personal nutrition plan for Agnès as a guide. It’s different for every patient. First, carbohydrate intake needs to be worked out, then a further calculation to determine the lowest intake required in order to be able to reduce the insulin. Next, glycaemic levels are monitored on a daily basis and the carbohydrate intake modified if necessary. I enjoy working with the recipes from Pascale Naessens. It makes it that much easier for my patients to change their nutritional habits. It was an enjoyable experience for Agnès as well. The diet was no trouble at all.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Elly Verhoeven. You can also visit this website: www.keerdiabetesom.nl. It is a Dutch association headed by Professor Hanno Pijl who provides professional guidance for those with diabetes.